IBM joins OpenOffice to push ODF

IBM is joining the OpenOffice project. Big Blue has committed to contributing code from its Lotus Notes business software suite and plans to integrate OpenOffice technology in its own products.

IBM joins OpenOffice to push ODF

OpenOffice is an open-source productivity suite originally created by Sun Microsystems in 2001. Like Microsoft’s commercial Office suite, it includes word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and database modules, as well as a set of drawing tools and a standalone equation editor.

Unlike Office, it uses the ODF standard as its native file format, but supports all other common file formats, including Microsoft’s.

Mike Rhodi, general manager of IBM’s Lotus division, said that its contribution of technology and engineering resources will provide visible benefits for OpenOffice users. “We’re particularly pleased to be teaming with the community to accelerate the rate of innovation in the office productivity marketplace,” he says. “We believe that this relationship will improve our ability to deliver innovative value to users of IBM products and services. We also believe that the collaboration will lead to an even broader range of ODF-supporting applications and solutions that draw from the technology.”

ODF push

IBM’s involvement will increase ODF’s chances of becoming the de facto document standard, according to OpenOffice executives. “We welcome IBM’s contributions to further enhancing the product,” says John McCreesh, marketing project lead. “But equally important is IBM’s future commitment to package and distribute new works that leverage technology supporting the ISO ODF standard. ODF is a once in a generation opportunity for the IT industry to unify round a standard, and deliver lasting benefit to users of desktop technology.”

Rich Green, Executive vice president, Software at Sun Microsystems, was similarly enthusiastic. “In the seven years since Sun founded the project, has fuelled and filled the need for document data and productivity tools that are open and free,” he claims. “Open source software and ODF are having a profound impact around the world, with numerous communities and organisations coming together to support these initiatives and governments, and corporations and schools standardising on the software.”

OpenOffice runs on all major operating systems, including Windows, Vista, Linux, Solaris, Mac OS X and is a free download from

ODF was recognised as an international standard in May 2006. The ISO’s approval contrasts with its decision last week not to fast track approval of Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) format. Critics of Microsoft argue that OOXML is not a truly open format and is “designed to operate fully within the Microsoft environment only”.

Microsoft disagrees and argues that multiple standards are preferable to a single format.

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